Opening Bell: 4.25.15

Flash crash trader: it was reflexes; EU chiefs describe Greece's Varoufakis as a total amateur; Nasdaq riding high; Don't buy condoms on Groupon; and more.
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‘Flash Crash’ Trader Navinder Sarao: It Was Wits, Not Bits (WSJ)
Navinder Sarao hasn’t spoken publicly since he was arrested Tuesday on charges of manipulating the U.S. futures market. But in emails released by regulators, the 36-year-old resident of suburban London called himself an “old-school” trader who excelled using “intuition,” quick reflexes and a computer mouse...In an email to the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority in 2014, Mr. Sarao described how he traded “very very fast because I have always been good with reflexes and doing things quick.”

MIT professor casts doubts on ‘lone trader’ Flash Crash theory (NYP)
...the details in the criminal complaint, much of which came from an unidentified whistle-blower, don’t go far enough in clearing up what happened that day, according to Andrei Kirilenko, a finance professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and one of the co-authors of the government report. “The [DOJ] complaint describes that there was a particular trader who was engaged in a certain type of manipulative behavior,” Kirilenko told The Post in an interview. “It’s not really clear to me how that caused the Flash Crash.” Kirilenko co-wrote the September 2010 report from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission that concluded a large sell order was probably to blame. At the time, Kirilenko was the CFTC’s chief economist.

Varoufakis Chided as EU Shuts Down Shortcut Bid for Aid (Bloomberg)
Euro-area finance chiefs said Varoufakis’s handling of the talks was irresponsible and accused him of being a time-waster, a gambler and an amateur, a person familiar with the conversations said, asking not to be named because the discussions were private.

Nasdaq Climbs to a Record, Again Fueled by Tech (WSJ)
On Thursday the index, propelled by hopes for an improving U.S. economy and Federal Reserve restraint in raising interest rates, rose 20.89 points, or 0.4%, to 5056.06, outrunning the high of 5048.62 set on March 10, 2000. Many investors doubted they would see a Nasdaq record again in their lifetimes, after the index tumbled 78%.

'Counterfeit' condoms sold through Groupon Australia recalled (UPI)
Condoms sold through Groupon Australia's website are being recalled over fears the "counterfeit" prophylactics contain flaws including holes. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said on its Product Safety Recalls website the recalled condoms had the branding of Durex's "Extra Safe," "Thin Feel" and "Performa" product lines, but they "may be counterfeit products with defects such as holes in the latex."

Two Probes Proved Too Much for Comcast (WSJ)
Comcast Corp.’s soon-to-be abandoned plan to acquire Time Warner Cable Inc. ran up against the challenge of overcoming scrutiny by two federal agencies, including a Justice Department antitrust review that was more skeptical than some expected. Both the department and the Federal Communications Commission conducted exhaustive reviews of the $45.2 billion deal, with Justice raising competition concerns and the FCC considering whether the tie-up was in the public interest. FCC staff put up stiff resistance to the deal, a factor that played a key role in its demise.

New Hostess owners looking to flip Twinkie-maker for $2 billion (Bloomberg)
The $2 billion figure is roughly 10 times the company’s annual $200 million of Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), according to sources. At that price, the owners — Leon Black’s Apollo Global Management and billionaire C. Dean Metropoulos — would reap $1.5 billion from their $200 million equity investment in the business, after subtracting $500 million of debt.

HSBC Reviews Moving Headquarters From London On Regulation (Bloomberg)
A move to Hong Kong, viewed by analysts as the bank’s most likely destination should it relocate, would unpick a structure that’s existed since the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. acquired Britain’s Midland Bank Plc in 1992. A transfer should cost no more than $1.5 billion because HSBC still has a base in the former British colony, said Chirantan Barua, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. in London.

Jobless Claims Rise Slightly in April 18 Week (WSJ)
Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S. economy, increased by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 295,000 in the week ended April 18, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected 290,000 claims.

Man Gets Wedged In Wall While Hiding From Cops (AP)
Steven Shuler was trying to avoid arrest on a probation violation Monday when he squeezed down a narrow hole in the attic floor next to the chimney in his home in Monrovia, about 25 miles southwest of Indianapolis, officials said. Morgan Township Fire Chief Miguel Ongay said Shuler had to stay in his 16 inch-wide hiding place for more than a day because he couldn't climb out. A visiting friend found him Tuesday morning and called firefighters to retrieve him. Ongay said he had never encountered anything like that in three decades on the job. "It was a special kind of stupid. This is one of those jobs where you think you've seen it all and then somebody tops it," he said.

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Opening Bell: 4.22.15

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Opening Bell: 8.14.15

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Opening Bell: 5.8.15

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Opening Bell: 4.28.15

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Opening Bell: 4.27.15

Greece may demote finance minister Yanis Varoufakis in talks; Deutsche Bank to cut $3.8 billion in costs; Flash Crash investigators probably missed a lotta clues; "Teen Suspended For Bomb-Themed 'Promposal' Calls Punishment 'Racist'"; and more.

Opening Bell: 4.23.15

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By Apavlo at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Opening Bell: 05.21.12

JPMorgan CIO Risk Chief Said To Have Trading-Loss History (Bloomberg) Irvin Goldman, who oversaw risks in the JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) unit that suffered more than $2 billion in trading losses, was fired by another Wall Street firm in 2007 for money-losing bets that prompted a regulatory sanction at the firm, Cantor Fitzgerald LP, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said. JPMorgan appointed Goldman in February as the top risk official in its chief investment office while the unit was managing trades that later spiraled into what Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon called “egregious,” self-inflicted mistakes. The bank knew when it picked Goldman that his earlier work at Cantor led regulators to penalize that company, according to a person briefed on the situation. Risk Manager's Past Scrutinized (WSJ) Mr. Goldman joined J.P. Morgan's CIO in January 2008 as a trader. The bank placed him on leave in September 2008 after it learned that NYSE Arca had opened a regulatory inquiry tied to his trading activities at Cantor Fitzgerald, people familiar with the matter said. After J.P. Morgan placed him on leave, Mr. Goldman founded a consulting firm based in New York called IJG Advisors LLC. He rejoined J.P. Morgan in September 2010 in the Chief Investment Office, this time focusing on strategy. Current J.P. Morgan Chase Chief Risk Officer John Hogan chose Mr. Goldman to serve as CRO of the office, a position that had been filled by Peter Weiland, who remains with J.P. Morgan's CIO. Mr. Hogan wasn't aware of the Cantor Fitzgerald incident or the earlier trading losses at J.P. Morgan Chase, said a person close to the bank. Eurobonds To Be Discussed At EU Summit (Reuters) Merkel has said she is not opposed to jointly underwritten euro area bonds per se, but believes it can only be discussed once the conditions are right, including much closer economic integration and coordination across the euro zone, including on fiscal matters. That remains a long way off. Will Greece Be Able to Print Drachma in a Rush? (Reuters) If or when policymakers finally decide Greece should leave the euro, the exit could happen so quickly that "new drachma" currency notes might not be printed in time. "It would be chaos," says Marios Efthymiopoulos, a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University Center for Advanced International Studies and president of Thessaloniki-based think tank Global Strategy. "The banks would collapse and you would have to nationalize them. You wouldn't be able to pay anyone except in coupons. There is only one (currency) printing press in Greece. It is in the museum in Athens and it doesn't work any more." Ryanair CEO: ‘No’ Campaigners in Irish Vote Are Crazy (CNBC) “I think Ireland will vote yes in the referendum and Ireland should vote yes. We have no alternative. People who are borrowing $15 billion a year to keep the lights turned on don’t have the wherewithal to vote no to the people that are lending them the money. There is no argument for voting no,” Michael O'Leary, CEO of budget airline Ryanair said. He described “no” campaigners as a “bunch of idiots and lunatics.” Barclays To Sell Entire BlackRock Stake (WSJ) Barclays said BlackRock agreed to repurchase $1 billion worth of the 19.6% stake that the bank holds in the asset-management company. The remainder of the stake will then be listed on a stock exchange. The decision to sell comes as the bank faces pressure from investors to boost its return on equity and prepares to mitigate the effects of regulation that will force the lender to hold a bigger capital buffer. Mark Zuckerberg Gets Married (AP) The couple met at Harvard and have been together for more than nine years, a guest who insisted on anonymity said. The ceremony took place in Zuckerberg's backyard before fewer than 100 guests, including Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. The guests all thought they were coming to celebrate Chan's graduation but were told after they arrived that the event was in fact a wedding. "Everybody was shocked," the guest said. The two had been planning the marriage for months but were waiting until Chan had graduated from medical school to hold the wedding. The timing wasn't tied to the IPO, since the date the company planned to go public was a "moving target," the guest said. Zuckerberg designed the ring featuring "a very simple ruby." Hedge Funds Rebuild Euro Bear Bets On Greek Exit Banks Weigh (Bloomberg) Hedge funds and other large speculators, which pared trades that would profit from a drop in the euro to the lowest levels since November, rebuilt them to a record high last week, figures released May 18 by the Washington-based Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. The premium for options that grant the right to sell the euro has more than doubled since March. Nasdaq CEO Blames Software Design For Delayed Facebook Trading (Bloomberg) Nasdaq OMX Group, under scrutiny after shares of Facebook Inc. were plagued by delays and mishandled orders on its first day of trading, blamed “poor design” in the software it uses for driving auctions in initial public offerings. Fed Proves More Bullish Than Wall Street Forecasting U.S. Growth (Bloomberg) Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities LLC, has derided the Federal Reserve for downplaying improvement in the U.S. economy. Yet his 2.6 percent forecast for growth this year is below the midpoint in the central bank’s projection of 2.4 percent to 2.9 percent...“I’ve been banging my head against the wall,” said Stanley in Stamford, Connecticut, a former researcher at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, who had predicted an interest- rate increase as early as last year and now says the Fed probably will tighten in the middle of next year. “They’re willing to let things run for longer and let inflation accelerate more than historically.” Judge mulls suit vs. woman sending messages to driving boyfriend (NYP) In a case believed to be the first of its kind in the country, a New Jersey college student could be held liable this week for texting her boyfriend — knowing he was behind the wheel — and allegedly causing him to crash into a couple riding a motorcycle. “She texts. Instantly, he texts back, and, bang, the accident occurs,” said Skippy Weinstein, attorney for motorcycle enthusiasts David and Linda Kubert, both 59, who lost their left legs in the horrific 2009 accident in Mine Hill. It’s now up to a Superior Court judge in Morristown, NJ, to decide whether Shannon Colonna can be added to the suit against driver Kyle Best.